Cooperative ventures?

Cooperative ventures?

Mohamed Badei, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, invited representatives from opposition parties and dissent movements to a meeting in the group’s main office in Cairo on Tuesday. Until Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, it was not clear what issues would be discussed or how many people would attend.

Mohamed Mursi, the Brotherhood’s media spokesman, told the Weekly that the meeting was aimed at strengthening coordination with opposition parties which include the Wafd, Tagammu, the Nasserist and the Democratic Front.

“The supreme guide wants to discuss the possibility of fostering coordination in the future,” Mursi said, indicating that the topics that would be discussed included “the death of Khaled Said in Alexandria, torture in prisons, and the rigging of the Shura Council elections”.

Badei’s invitation also extended to Mohamed El-Baradei and representatives of the National Assembly for Change (NAC), which El-Baradei founded last February to spearhead calls for political and constitutional reform. NAC spokesman Hassan Nafaa said he would attend the Brotherhood’s meeting.

“We welcome any coordination with the Brotherhood as long as they are committed to democracy and a civilian state,” Nafaa said.

El-Baradei is currently outside Egypt and so will not be able to attend.

Muslim Brotherhood MPs told the Weekly they had not received any invitations to Tuesday’s meeting.

“The meeting could usefully focus on forming a united front to exert pressure on the regime to allow for more transparent elections,” said Brotherhood MP Hussein Ibrahim. “It should also discuss the possibility of boycotting elections in the absence of the necessary guarantees that they are fair.”

In recent weeks representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood have met with the main opposition parties in an attempt to coordinate action ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections, scheduled for November 2010 and September 2011.

The Muslim Brotherhood has joined El-Baradei’s campaign to gather a million signatures for its petition demanding constitutional changes, an end to the state of emergency, and free and fair elections. Essam El-Erian, a senior Brotherhood official, said last week that the group had collected more than 30,000 signatures since joining the campaign.

“So far none of the opposition parties has agreed to boycott the elections. Not taking part is only possible if the opposition is united,” said El-Erian.

If the Brotherhood does contest the poll, he continued, a total of 200 candidates will stand for seats in the 518-seat People’s Assembly. El-Erian told a British website that the Brotherhood would struggle to repeat the successes of its 2005 performance when it won 88 seats.

El-Erian said the Brotherhood would fight the elections on a platform demanding political change and reform. “We want to establish democracy and a civilian state based on Islamic principles,” he said.